Focus on chYps Children’s Hospice at Home

chYps Head of Care Tracie Dempster at work

chYps Head of Care Tracie Dempster at work - Credit: Archant

Meet Kent Life’s Charity of the Year for 2014

Tracie - tell us about chYps

chYps started life as the children and young people’s service of Kent charity EllenorLions Hospices.

We provide vital hospice at home care in the homes of seriously ill babies, children and young adults. We are not a residential hospice, so we’re not located in a single building, and our nursing and care teams work from offices based in Tonbridge and Dartford, giving them access to all communities.

When you are sick, the only place you want to be is at home, in a place of familiarity and comfort. The same can also be said for the young patients cared for by chYps Children’s Hospice at Home.

What is your role at chYps?

I am Head of Care and my job is to manage the team of Children’s Palliative Care Specialist Nurses and a respite team which is made up of staff nurses, nursery nurses and healthcare assistants. At the moment I directly manage around 30 staff.

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I am also Lead for Safeguarding across the whole organisation, which includes both vulnerable adults and children’s safeguarding.

A large part of my role is also spent at meetings both locally and nationally, raising the profile of the chYps service.

What makes chYps different?

We are the only charity in Kent that delivers children’s hospice at home. With our help young patients can stay at home, in a place of security, comfort and familiarity, surrounded by their loved ones. We provide care and support to patients and their families throughout the child’s illness and at the end of their lives. We also provide emotional support and bereavement care to families even after a child has died.

What about EllenorLions Hospices?

We can offer short breaks for over-14s in the EllenorLions Hospice in Northfleet, while for young people entering adulthood, our Transition service helps them move smoothly into EllenorLions’ adult care and other services in the wider community. We also offer support to the children of the adult patients (chAps). This is both pre- and post-bereavement, either through our family support service or with respite via the chYps respite team.

What’s your biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge for me is ensuring that all of the children within West Kent and Bexley who need the care and support chYps offers can access our service. This is not only about families knowing who we are and what we do, but also the general public and local businesses. Without their financial support we could not deliver the service we do. Don’t forget that chYps is a charity and almost totally reliant on the generosity of the Kent community. Demand for our care is increasing and we can only reach out to more children with financial backing from our supporters.

What do you love about your job?

The sense of satisfaction and pride I feel when chYps has supported a family through the whole process of diagnosis, treatment, respite, end-of-life care and post-bereavement care.

When my team has enabled that child to have quality of life at the end of life and been able to deliver that where the child and family want it most – at home.

I also really enjoy the times where I still get to deliver a bit of hands-on-care myself, particularly the Youth Groups and Family Drop Ins (see Tracie at work above).

Do families prefer to receive hospice care at home?

Yes, this is our experience and also the feedback we have received from families. When a child has a serious condition and may not live into adulthood, the family faces an extremely difficult time. One of these difficulties is when the child has to leave the comfort, security and proximity of the family home for treatment or respite at a hospital or hospice in patient unit.

In the last two years we have seen a 90 per cent increase in the demand for respite. Our families prefer a friendly, familiar professional coming into the home; that way mum, dad, brothers and sisters can all be together and create precious memories.

Is it the same clinical care as in a residential hospice?

Yes, and more. chYps offers a seamless service of care for babies, children and young adults, age 0-19 years. We work closely with a variety of care providers to provide chemotherapy, palliative care, end of life care, respite and a wide range of other care and support services.

How much does it cost?

All our services are provided free of charge to our young patients and their families.

How is a child referred?

Anyone can refer to chYps with consent from the child’s parent or guardian.

How can Kent Life readers help?

chYps is a charity and relies on generous supporter donations, to provide our hospice service free to families, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

We need to raise £1.47 million every year to care for the children and families on our caseload, but we also need to be able to expand our service and reach out to more life-limited and life-threatened children who don’t currently receive the chYps hospice service. We can only do this with the generosity of the Kent community. n

FIND OUT MORE

For more information on how to help, contact Rachel Holweger, Director of Fundraising, on rachel.holweger@chyps.org. See also page 117.

You can also visit www.chyps.org, follow chYps on twitter @chYpsCharity and ‘like’ www.facebook.com/chypschildrenshospice..